Education Funding

Court Rejects Kansas School Financing System

By Jessica L. Tonn & David J. Hoff — January 04, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The Kansas Supreme Court has declared that the state inadequately finances its public schools, in a long-awaited opinion released Jan. 3.

The preliminary decision agreed with a lower-court judge’s 2003 ruling that the legislature has failed to meet the burden imposed on it by the Kansas Constitution to “make suitable provision for finance” of K-12 schools.

The unanimous opinion in Montoy v. State of Kansas serves as a warning to state legislators, who were given until April 12 to address the school finance dilemma. A final and prescriptive version of the ruling will be issued at that time.

Read the Kansas Supreme Court’s preliminary decision.

“We will withhold our formal opinion until corrective legislation has been enacted or April 12, 2005, whichever occurs first,” the court declared in its ruling.

The plaintiffs in the case, the school districts of Salina and Dodge City, have argued that the current school financing structure leaves schools severely underfunded. The districts also argue that they are unable to meet the needs of their students, especially those schools in medium-size and large districts that tend to have disproportionately high numbers of minority and special education students.

Agreeing with the plaintiffs, the high court added that the finance formula is based on “former spending levels and political compromise,” rather than the actual costs of education.

Though the ruling did not include specific instructions for lawmakers, it did conclude that “it is clear increased funding will be required.”

The justices went on to say that “the equity with which the funds are distributed and the actual costs of education, including appropriate levels of administrative costs, are critical factors for the legislature to consider in achieving a suitable formula for financing education.”

In a statement released the day of the ruling, Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline said that the legislature could comply with the decision by adjusting the formula used for distributing K-12 aid so that districts with high numbers of students deemed at risk get funding increases.

The Kansas state legislature reconvenes on Jan. 10.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attend to the Whole Child: Non-Academic Factors within MTSS
Learn strategies for proactively identifying and addressing non-academic barriers to student success within an MTSS framework.
Content provided by Renaissance
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum How to Teach Digital & Media Literacy in the Age of AI
Join this free event to dig into crucial questions about how to help students build a foundation of digital literacy.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding A State Considers a Future in Which Schools Can't Rely on Property Taxes
How would school districts fill the gap if a governor gets his wishes?
10 min read
A school building rests on vanishing columns of rolled hundred dollar bills. Vanishing property tax support for schools.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + Getty Images
Education Funding Inside a Summer Learning Camp With an Uncertain Future After ESSER
A high-poverty district offers an enriching, free summer learning program. But the end of ESSER means tough choices.
5 min read
Alaysia Kimble, 9, laughs with fellow students while trying on a firefighter’s hat and jacket at Estabrook Elementary during the Grizzle Learning Camp on June, 26, 2024 in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Alaysia Kimble, 9, laughs with fellow students while trying on a firefighter’s hat and jacket at Estabrook Elementary during the Grizzly Learning Camp on June, 26, 2024 in Ypsilanti, Mich. The district, with 70 percent of its students coming from low-income backgrounds, is struggling with how to continue funding the popular summer program after ESSER funds dry up.
Sylvia Jarrus for Education Week
Education Funding Jim Crow-Era School Funding Hurt Black Families for Generations, Research Shows
Mississippi dramatically underfunded Black schools in the Jim Crow era, with long-lasting effects on Black families.
5 min read
Abacus with rolls of dollar banknotes
iStock/Getty
Education Funding What New School Spending Data Show About a Coming Fiscal Cliff
New data show just what COVID-relief funds did to overall school spending—and the size of the hole they might leave in school budgets.
4 min read
Photo illustration of school building and piggy bank.
F. Sheehan for Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus